The Glory of Self-Sacrifice
St. Mark VIII. 27; IX. 8.
"Whosoever shall lose his life for My sake
N this Lesson it is best to pass over some of the details,
and concentrate attention on the one thought—the Glory
of Self-Sacrifice—the ideal for the earthly life, and
the actual in the heavenly life. Christ's lessons about
self-sacrifice teach the first; the story of the
Transfiguration teaches the second.
Two questions of which I want you to find the answers
to-day:— (1) What is the glory of the earthly life?
(2) What is the glory of the heavenly life?
§ 1. The Glory of the Earthly Life
Read vv. 27-38.
Question closely on vv. 27-31.
"Whom do men say?"
"Whom say ye?" What were the
guesses of the multitude which they heard of? What do
these guesses show? No ordinary life. All felt that the
beauty of that character, the wonder of those miracles,
could not be explained in ordinary way. Something
wonderful—divine. They could not understand the real
explanation, so they guessed as well as they could.
Next question? Answer? How did they know? They knew the
O. T. prophecies of the Messiah, and nobody could be in
Christ's close company without seeing how God-like he
was; and besides, they were divinely helped to
understand Him (Matthew xvi. 17).
They, who of all the
world knew and loved Him best, felt sure that He was no
ordinary man like themselves, but the Christ of God.
Vv. 27-34.—Strange teaching
followed—what? Why? Perhaps
to keep them from thoughts of an earthly kingdom;
perhaps to teach them what the Christ-life meant. How did
they receive it? (v. 32.)
It surprised and disappointed
them greatly. No grandeur; no greatness; no shouting of
loyal crowds at His feet. No; but a poor, spoiled life;
a poor, despised, insulted man, persecuted and
murdered. How could that be for the King of Heaven? God
forbid! Hear Peter's astonishment
(v. 32). Why so
puzzled? Could not understand the real glory of life,
the glory of self-sacrifice. They thought that success
and prosperity and happiness and earthly glory would be
the life worthy of the Christ of God. Would it? Did His
life show much of seeking for such? What did it show?
That He thought self-sacrifice for others' sake the
noblest of all things. Even if it led to insult and
mockery and death, it was a life grander and worthier
of the Son of God than all the glory that the world
could give. Which do you think the higher and better—to
make yourself happy, or to make others happy? Which
does our Lord think?
He began to teach them what in
God's sight is the highest glory of life—what?
"If any man will come after Me, follow in My
footsteps." Some of these disciples wished to, some of
you children wish to. How do it? By resolving to make
yourself happy, comfortable, rich? No. By taking up the
cross. Doing right when it is painful, for Christ's
sake. Thinking of others' happiness more than your own.
Being willing to lose what you like best for sake of
Christ and for sake of others. (Illustrate from
children's ordinary lives.) Thus Christ's life taught:
"I am going for sake of others to lose self, to lose
life, to spoil My life, as the world would think. He
that would follow Me must do the same."
Did Christ lose happiness by self-sacrifice?
Shall we really lose happiness by giving it up for
others and for God? No. In some wonderful way we get
happier still. The inward peace of God and His blessing
on our lives make up for all. So our Lord says
He that is willing to lose everything for the sake of
God and right, he shall gain beyond his wildest hopes.
Tell me, then, what our Lord thinks the glory of our
§ 2. The Glory of the Heavenly Life
Now we come to
next part—Glory of the Heavenly Life. There, too, love
and self-sacrifice are the chief glory. But there is
more in the heavenly than in earthly glory.
Read ch. ix. 2-8. Question closely on details. Refer to
parallel accounts in Matthew xvii., Luke ix. Wonderful
scene. Vision of Heaven. In the darkness of midnight
our Lord and three apostles on a lonely mountain. He
was praying (Luke ix. 29).
They were what? (v. 32).
Another time they were sleeping while He prayed
(Mark xiv. 32-40). While He prayed a wonderful, awful,
glorious thing happened—what? Meaning of "transfigured"?
mass of cloud in the evening, dull, plain, and
Then the setting sun shines on it; transfigures it with
golden glory; it becomes full of light and
splendour; exquisitely lovely. Yet the same cloud.
Something like that. His body, even His clothes,
glowing with the beautiful light of Heaven—all white,
brilliant, dazzling. Like a prince in disguise who had
put on his royal clothes for a moment. "He decketh
Himself with light as with a garment." What awe and
wonder and reverence in the three apostles at seeing
the plain poor carpenter's son, their companion,
dressed in His real clothes. How differently they would
feel towards Him afterwards!
Two other heavenly visitors also in glorious
appearance—who? Think of the terror and astonishment of the
apostles when they wakened up. Had they only dreamed
it? No (Luke ix. 30). They had been a few days ago
wondering that pain and death could come to the Christ
of God; and He had been teaching them that pain and
death might be very glorious things. And now, just
listen to the Heavenly Three. What talking about?
(Luke ix. 31.) In all the glory and dazzling splendour they
talked of the death of shame on Calvary. Did they think
it something to be ashamed of? No; it was the glory of
the heavenly life, too, this glory of self-sacrifice.
Think of the Heavenly Ones who had seen the Lord, and
talked about this perhaps before He came down to earth.
Think of them and the holy angels watching and
thinking and talking about it in Heaven; and now these
two talking about it with Him on earth. Think:—
(1) What a delightful world in the great Hereafter,
where all is love, and nobleness, and self-sacrifice;
where no selfish thought could exist. If it did, it
would rise like an ugly little cloud in the clear sky
of heaven, and everyone would be troubled by it till it
melted away in the light of God's presence. Think of
the glory of the heavenly life, where we shall have
glorified, transfigured bodies, too; where all eternity
will be occupied in planning unselfish delights for
those about us, and rejoicing in the presence of the
great, unselfish God, whom, at last, we are able to
understand and love as we ought.
(2) Think of that same unselfishness as the glory of
the earthly life. Only one perfectly unselfish life
ever on earth. He lived the heavenly life here. He wore
Himself out trying to help, and teach, and comfort men,
and then set His face steadfastly towards Calvary, to
be despised, and rejected, and tortured to death for
the sake of the very people who hated and murdered Him.
Then He said to all who would follow Him that they,
too, must live the life of self-sacrifice, the life of
the "Kingdom of God." Shall we not all try? Care for
others' happiness. Bear painful things, and do
unpleasant things for others' sake and Christ's sake.
How could we help doing it, even if it were only to
give Him the satisfaction of seeing us do it? He shall
see of the travail of His soul, and shall be